Total noob here, with some questions?

A place to discuss organic lawn care products and practices
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Topic Author
J Scott Elblein
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 18, 2021 12:26 pm
Location: illinois
Grass Type: no idea
Lawn Size: not sure
Mower: A red one

Total noob here, with some questions?

Post by J Scott Elblein »

Hey all,

New member here, and also a complete newbie when dealing with lawns. My main question is, can you recommend which organic week killer for me to use? My main concern is that we're very pet/animal friendly and get a ton of wild critters (foxes, deer, etc.) as well as stray/feral cats, and the occasional dog that escaped, so I want to bee 1000% sure it's non-toxic for all of them.

I know that there are some that say right on the label that they're non-toxic, but I'd rather take the opinions of actual experienced users than just a label full of marketing.

If it helps in choosing which weed killer to use based on which weeds I have, it seems like I've got a little bit of everything :lol:

I don't know exactly what they are by name however; I think clover and obviously dandelions are at least 2 of them. Here are some pics:


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Thanks in advance for any help!

Virginiagal
Posts: 989
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:11 am
Location: Virginia
Grass Type: tttf

Re: Total noob here, with some questions?

Post by Virginiagal »

Not sure what “nontoxic” products you’re looking at or what exactly you’re trying to accomplish. If you use things like vinegar or salt or boiling water, it will kill everything, not just the weed (and also affect the soil and earthworms and other soil critters). Take a look at the labels on some selective herbicides that kill weeds but not grass (for example, WeedBGon) and read the safety information. Maybe you’re ok with using a product that dries in a certain amount of time and then is harmless to animals? Maybe not.

Read the herbicide info in the cool season maintenance guide here:
viewtopic.php?t=1595
And this:
viewtopic.php?t=6334
If you know the weeds, you can target them with the correct killer. You can spot spray, you don’t have to spray everything. If you use them, you should follow all the protective clothing guidelines and other precautions (like no wind, temperature below such and such).

But if you’re not comfortable using herbicides, that fine. It just means you probably need to live with the weeds. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You have clover. Nothing wrong with clover. It’s even helps provide nitrogen to the soil. But it does spread and and can choke out your grass. If you’re trying to have a grass only lawn, you probably want to get rid of it and the way to do that is with a product that has triclopyr. It’s your choice: live with clover or use triclopyr maybe once or twice a year.

For your borders, just pull weeds out manually. Use mulch.

Virginiagal
Posts: 989
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:11 am
Location: Virginia
Grass Type: tttf

Re: Total noob here, with some questions?

Post by Virginiagal »

A few more things:
The best defense against weeds is a thick lawn of grass. That’s true but it’s only applicable when when you have already a thick grassy lawn. The obstacle is getting to the dense grass part, which would be difficult unless you get rid of the weeds. You would need to kill weeds, plant seed at an opportune time, water it appropriately, fertilize appropriately, mow appropriately, and use preemergents at appropriate times.

Preemergents are wonderful things. Yes, they’re chemicals. But they prevent annual weeds like crabgrass from germinating. You have to put them down before the weeds germinate. But an application in early spring will keep many weeds away all spring and summer. They can be applied in early fall too to keep winter/spring annuals away. You can’t use normal preemergents, though, when you’re seeding grass. The normal way to seed for cool season grass is to seed in the early fall, use preemergent in the spring. Instead of continually killing weeds, you prevent them. Preemergents are herbicides. You would need to research particular ones to see if you’re comfortable using them.

Really though, you have to ask yourself why you’re trying to kill weeds in the lawn. Weeds in the borders, yes, they have to be taken out to prevent the border from becoming overgrown (pull or dig them up). Things like poison ivy, thorny vines, yes, get rid of them. But weeds that are green and just take up space in the lawn, not harming anyone, you can choose to let them be. Just mow them. They’re green, they keep the soil from eroding, they may have blooms that bees enjoy (I’m thinking of clover), they provide diversity. You can embrace your weeds. If particular ones are bothersome, dig them up.

Topic Author
J Scott Elblein
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 18, 2021 12:26 pm
Location: illinois
Grass Type: no idea
Lawn Size: not sure
Mower: A red one

Re: Total noob here, with some questions?

Post by J Scott Elblein »

@Virginiagal ty for the pointers. Basically, I'm wanting to take the lazy route and just spray (or scatter) a general purpose weed killer leaving just the grass, or at least, more grass than weeds :lol: , while being environmentally and animal friendly.

Looks like there's waaay more to it though, so I guess we'll see.

Virginiagal
Posts: 989
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:11 am
Location: Virginia
Grass Type: tttf

Re: Total noob here, with some questions?

Post by Virginiagal »

The main obstacle is that the “natural, environmental friendly” weed killers kill everything. To selectively kill weeds, leaving the grass intact, you need herbicides. Herbicides do break down into simple elements through microbes in the soil. Perhaps an approach could be to encourage a healthy soil life with organic matter (mulching leaves in the fall, for example, leaving them on the lawn for the earthworms and other soil organisms) and judicious use of herbicides targeted to the weeds, following all the rules on the herbicide label. It’s up to you and what you’re comfortable with. Read and do some research on particular products you might consider.

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